Hand coloured pochoirs* n.10 & n.19 (1924)
SONIA DELAUNAY (1885-1979)
From the suite: Ses Peintures, ses Objets, ses Tissus Simultanes, ses Modes. Signed in the plate
Newly-framed in polished aluminium as pictured
Sonia Delaunay, original name Sofia Ilinitchna Turk, was a Ukrainian-born French painter, illustrator, and textile designer who was a pioneer of abstract art in the years before the First War.
Delaunay grew up in St. Petersburg. She studied drawing in Karlsruhe, Germany and in 1905 moved to Paris, where she was influenced by the Post-Impressionists and the Fauvists. She married the artist Robert Delaunay in 1910, by which time she was painting in the style known as Orphism**, which involved the harmonious juxtaposition of areas of pure colour. She extended Orphist principles to the design of fabrics, pottery decoration, stage sets, and other applied arts. Among her most important works were her Orphist illustrations for a poem by Blaise Cendrars entitled La Prose du Transsibérien et de la petite Jehanne de France (1913; “The Prose of the Trans-Siberian and of Little Jehanne of France”); the resulting volume was a landmark in modern book production.
During the 1920s Delaunay designed textiles and dresses, and her use of abstract colour harmonies had a strong influence on international fashion. She returned to painting in the 1930s, joining the Abstraction-Creation association in 1931. She and Robert Delaunay became involved in public art projects, and they collaborated on vast murals for the Paris Exposition of 1937. After her husband’s death in 1941, Delaunay continued to work as a painter and designer, and she lived to see the mounting of retrospectives of her work by major museums from the 1950s onward. In 1964, she became the only woman to have had an exhibition at the Louvres in her own lifetime.
*Pochoir is French for ‘stencil’. In the 20th century pochoir printmaking was made famous in France by Picasso and Matisse. The French term Pochoir now defines this specific artist’s technique. No printing press is used in pochoir. The hand-made aspect has been one of its most valuable attributes as each print can really be termed a one-off. Made by the artist’s hand, using hand cut stencils and stippled brush and sponge application, pochoir builds up layers of both colour and texture over which the artist has total control. The paint sits on the surface rather than soaks in as in the case of ink and all pochoirs are unique, rather than uniform. This variation from print to print is, of course, deliberate, intrinsic to the work and made according to the artist’s fancy.
**Orphism is a term originating from 1912 when French poet and art critic Guillaume Appollinaire identified the new style of cubist painting. Appollinaire was inspired by the work of František Kupka and the Delaunays, who, although channelling the Cubist vision, prioritised colour in their work. Appollinaire felt this use of colour brought movement, light and musical qualities to the artwork and therefore referenced the legendary poet and singer of ancient Greek mythology, Orpheus, when naming the movement.